British soccer player Marcus Rashford during the Europa League Round of 16 match between Manchester United and Betis at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, Britain March 9, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble

By Lori Ewing

MANCHESTER, England, March 9 (Reuters) – Manchester United beat Real Betis 4-1 in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16, four days after suffering a humiliating loss to Liverpool.

Erik ten Hag’s side, crushed by their eternal rivals (7-0) on Sunday, took the lead through Rashford and, although Betis equalized, the hosts dominated the second half and won a victory that boosted their morale.

Rashford scored his 25th goal of the season in all competitions six minutes into the game, controlling a Fernandes cross and ending the side to the delight of fans who braved freezing temperatures and snow at Old Trafford.

Ayoze Pérez, on loan from Leicester City, scored his first goal for Betis in the 32nd minute, but the equalizer did not dampen United’s energy.

The hosts started the second half well, with Brazilian winger Antony putting United ahead in the 52nd minute with a superb goal, firing a blistering left-footed shot into the team from outside the box.

Fernandes, whose poor performance against Liverpool cast doubt on his suitability for United captaincy, added the third, heading in a corner that Betis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo grazed with his fingertips.

Dutch striker Wout Weghorst, who missed several chances, completed the rout in the 82nd minute, sending the ball into the net after a cut from substitute Facundo Pellistri.

In the rest of the first round matches, Juventus beat SC Freiburg 1-0 with a goal from Ángel Di María, Shakhtar Donetsk drew 1-1 with Feyenoord and Sevilla beat Fenerbahçe 2-0 with goals from Joan Jordan and Erik Lamela.

Premier League leaders Arsenal drew 2-2 with Sporting Lisbon and AS Roma beat Real Sociedad 2-0.

Union Royale Belge drew 3-3 with Union Berlin in Germany and Bayer Leverkusen beat Hungary’s Ferencvaros 2-0.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Ed Osmond; Editing in Spanish by Darío Fernández)

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